IIAS Newsletter 45 Autumn 2007

MuXiYuan: A neighbourhood untouched in a changing Beijing

Jikky Lam

The dizzying pace of change in urban China is nowhere more evident than in Beijing. No city on earth is reinventing itself more rapidly than the next Olympic city. Half the world’s production of steel and a third of its concrete is feeding the voracious appetite for construction. New apartments, hotels, offices, stations and roads are transforming the landscape of the capital. Old sites are torn down, making way for new ones, in the relentless pursuit of modernisation.

But there are still a few corners of the city that have managed to avoid the bulldozers. MuXiYuan, in the south of Beijing, is one of them. Jikky Lam’s photographs offer us a snapshot of the daily lives of the people living in the neighbourhood: doing groceries, running errands, cooking, chatting with acquaintances. A glimpse of mundanity in the face of frenetic change. MuXiYuan’s small streets and narrow lanes are hemmed in by new high rise apartments on one side, and a huge overpass on the other. There are no plans as yet for rebuilding MuXiYuan, but surely it is only a matter of time before the ‘city that ate the world’ swallows up the final traces of its 19th century self.

Download PDF from menu on right to read full article »